OOCL Will Penalize Shippers for VGM Discrepancies
Orient Overseas Container Lines (OOCL) has announced that it will impose on shippers the costs of any failure to comply with the upcoming SOLAS VGM requirements and any special handling of a shipment which may result.
From the sounds of it, those costs can add up very quickly.
In a document published in advance of the implementation of new contain-weighing regulations, OOCL stated that “packed containers will be randomly selected for weighing to check against the VGM submitted by the shipper.”
The VGM, or verified gross mass, is the packed container weight, which under new International Maritime Organization regulations coming into force on July 1, must be submitted to the carrier by the shipper before a container can be loaded. There is an emerging consensus that the new requirement will not be strictly enforced for the first few months. Some terminal operators will be providing container weighing services. Technology providers have also stepped up with systems that allow the VGM to be submitted electronically.
OOCL said that it is working with local vendors to identify the location and methodology to perform its random container inspections. “If the weight is beyond the tolerance level,” the carrier declared, “the shipper will be accountable for the inspection fee and penalty where applicable.”
OOCL will also dun shippers for any consequential costs associated with the special handling of non-compliant container. These may include stevedoring and transportation costs; inspection and survey costs; storage fees and demurrage; weighing costs if the carrier does the weighing; and stuffing and unstuffing of the container in order to obtain the VGM. Removing the container from the vessel if VGM is found to be incorrect may also incur costs and penalties.
OOCL also clarified that if a terminal weighs a packed container for VGM verification, and if there is a discrepancy between the shipper weight and the terminal weight, the carrier will be using the VGM of the container weighed at the terminal as determinitive.